While not a first-choice title to deal with jealousy and decision-making, this is a lighthearted foray into the difficulties...

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NECK & NECK

A giraffe who fancies himself king of the zoo fights an uphill battle to maintain his sovereignty and his supply of treats.

Leopold is adored by the zoo-going children and relishes his high position—until one brown-faced child appears with competition in the form of a high-flying giraffe balloon. Giraffe and balloon play a game of one-upmanship until the giraffe appears to be the loser. The balloon does not require a steady supply of snacks, which leads to Leopold sulking with his head in an acacia tree and then exacting explosive revenge against the upstart balloon. The scheme backfires as the kid shows up with a bigger and better version of the balloon in the form of a whole bunch of them. Alas, the kid trips, the kid loses the balloons, and the giraffe faces a moral dilemma. All ends well for the giraffe and his snacks and the boy and his balloons. Parsley’s little tale deals with some serious issues that are treated comically. Her digital artwork emphasizes the heights of the high-necked and high-strung combatants, as does the tall format of the book. Facial features are exaggerated while type resembling hand-drawn lettering advances the drama, occasionally filling a double-spread with explosive action.

While not a first-choice title to deal with jealousy and decision-making, this is a lighthearted foray into the difficulties of zoo life and—more to the point—peer behavior. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-46674-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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